Archive | March 10, 2017

Neuroscientists Discover New ‘mini-neural computer’ in the Brain*

Neuroscientists Discover New ‘mini-neural computer’ in the Brain*

This is a dendrite, the branch-like structure of a single neuron in the brain. The bright object from the top is a pipette attached to a dendrite in the brain of a mouse. The pipette allows researchers to measure electrical activity, such as a dendritic spike, the bright spot in the middle of the image. Credit: Spencer Smith

Dendrites, the branch-like projections of neurons, were once thought to be passive wiring in the brain. But now researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have shown that these dendrites do more than relay information from one neuron to the next. They actively process information, multiplying the brain’s computing power.

“Suddenly, it’s as if the processing power of the brain is much greater than we had originally thought,” said Spencer Smith, PhD, an assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine.

His team’s findings, published October 27 in the journal Nature, could change the way scientists think about long-standing scientific models of how neural circuitry functions in the brain, while also helping researchers better understand neurological disorders.

“Imagine you’re reverse engineering a piece of alien technology, and what you thought was simple wiring turns out to be transistors that compute information,” Smith said.

“That’s what this finding is like. The implications are exciting to think about.”

Axons are where neurons conventionally generate electrical spikes, but many of the same molecules that support axonal spikes are also present in the dendrites. Previous research using dissected brain tissue had demonstrated that dendrites can use those molecules to generate electrical spikes themselves, but it was unclear whether normal brain activity involved those dendritic spikes. For example, could dendritic spikes be involved in how we see?

The answer, Smith’s team found, is yes. Dendrites effectively act as mini-neural computers, actively processing neuronal input signals themselves.

Directly demonstrating this required a series of intricate experiments that took years and spanned two continents, beginning in senior author Michael Hausser’s lab at University College London, and being completed after Smith and Ikuko Smith, PhD, DVM, set up their own lab at the University of North Carolina. They used patch-clamp electrophysiology to attach a microscopic glass pipette electrode, filled with a physiological solution, to a neuronal dendrite in the brain of a mouse. The idea was to directly “listen” in on the electrical signaling process.

“Attaching the pipette to a dendrite is tremendously technically challenging,” Smith said. “You can’t approach the dendrite from any direction. And you can’t see the dendrite. So you have to do this blind. It’s like fishing if all you can see is the electrical trace of a fish.” And you can’t use bait. “You just go for it and see if you can hit a dendrite,” he said. “Most of the time you can’t.”

A network of pyramidal cells in the cerebral cortex. These neurons have been simulated using a computer program which captures the beautiful dendritic architecture of real pyramidal cells. These dendrites have now been shown to carry out sophisticated computations on their inputs. Credit: UCL

But Smith built his own two-photon microscope system to make things easier.

Once the pipette was attached to a dendrite, Smith’s team took electrical recordings from individual dendrites within the brains of anesthetized and awake mice. As the mice viewed visual stimuli on a computer screen, the researchers saw an unusual pattern of electrical signals – bursts of spikes – in the dendrite.

Smith’s team then found that the dendritic spikes occurred selectively, depending on the visual stimulus, indicating that the dendrites processed information about what the animal was seeing.

To provide visual evidence of their finding, Smith’s team filled neurons with calcium dye, which provided an optical readout of spiking. This revealed that dendrites fired spikes while other parts of the neuron did not, meaning that the spikes were the result of local processing within the dendrites.

Study co-author Tiago Branco, PhD, created a biophysical, mathematical model of neurons and found that known mechanisms could support the dendritic spiking recorded electrically, further validating the interpretation of the data.

“All the data pointed to the same conclusion,” Smith said.

“The dendrites are not passive integrators of sensory-driven input; they seem to be a computational unit as well.”

His team plans to explore what this newly discovered dendritic role may play in brain circuitry and particularly in conditions like Timothy syndrome, in which the integration of dendritic signals may go awry.

Explore further: Control of brain waves from the brain surface

Source*

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Trump To Continue Bankrupting The U.S. Through Foreign Wars*

Trump To Continue Bankrupting The U.S. Through Foreign Wars*

By Jeff Berwick

Remember pre-election, how the theme was that a Killary presidency meant certain war? And, how a Trump presidency would mean friendship with Russia and bringing many of the troops home?

Well, so much for that! Trump is just as oriented toward war as Hillary. The difference is one of geography. Trump’s wars are located particularly in the Middle East. He is already looking even worse than Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack O’Bomber or George “Victory in Iraq” Bush.

Initially, Trump was touted by many as a change-maker. He was going to “drain the swamp”. What happened? Well, he mostly refilled the swamp with Goldman Sachs and other Wall Streeters. And, as for other “change”? The IRS continues to extort. The NSA continues to spy. The Federal Reserve continues to print. And the federal government continues to drown in debt.

In other words, almost nothing of importance has changed.

What has changed? Well, Trump is massively increasing the police state and is a strong backer of the right of police to rob anyone they like for any reason (called “asset forfeiture”).

And as for the Department of Offense and the Pentagram, nothing much is changing there either… except Trump wants to waste even more stolen money (taxes) on the Pentagon which just recently announced that it can’t account for over $6 trillion.

And now, Trump is looking to the Middle East for his war. Defense Secretary James Mattis, recently wanted the U.S. Navy to “intercept and board an Iranian ship to look for contraband weapons possibly headed to Houthi fighters in Yemen.”

Mattis ultimately decided not to attack because the ship was in international waters and news of his potential action had already leaked.

It was “illegal leaks” that scotched the operation – at least for now, nothing else. Such intentions “significantly increases the risk of war” according to Trump critics who point out his administration is filled with war hawks.

Some may have thought Mattis would be a “responsible adult,” but this is far from the truth. In fact, Mattis has called Iran “the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East.” Yes, the Iran who has never attacked another country in centuries… while the U.S. attacks a few nearly every year.

Mattis is no dove generally. He’s been involved in Iraq war crimes such as when he ordered an attack on Mukaradeeb in April 2004 that ended up killing 42 civilians, along with 13 children at a wedding.

Even worse, in November 2004, he set up the Marine assault on Fallujah which turned the city into rubble and cost at least 800 civilian deaths.

Mattis is nicknamed “Mad Dog” because of his militant sayings such as telling Marines under his command in Iraq to “be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”

He is a firm believer in hegemony when it comes to the Middle East and under this viewpoint, Iran will be the No. 1 enemy. He called the three biggest threats to the US, “Iran, Iran, Iran.”

That is laughable. But, certainly, the three biggest threats to Iran are absolutely, “the US, the US, the US”.

More importantly, however, for you personally, is to be aware that nothing has changed. The US is still bankrupt, the Federal Reserve is still printing money to keep the system alive and, like most empires, it will all end due to massive military spending and war.

One way to prepare is to become more well versed about gold, silver and cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. As well as investments in foreign farmland and real estate.

Last week we concluded our TDV Internationalization & Investment Summit where experts discussed all of this. You can get access to a lot of what was said by viewing the videos of many of the speeches here.

Many people fell, like they often do, for the words of a politician like Trump and thought he was going to “fix everything”. Not only is he not going to fix anything… he is going to make things far worse.

Use this time now to prepare for what is coming.

Source*

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U.S. Marines Invade Syria, helping ISIS and Turkey*

U.S. Marines Invade Syria, helping ISIS and Turkey*

By Gordon Duff

This is the news out of Syria today, only 24 hours after hundreds of US Marines invade Syria, and “invade” is the term, nobody invited them and nobody believes they are going to do anything against ISIS, unless they “go rogue” and murder their own commanders like was done in Vietnam:

BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:45 A.M.) – Minutes ago, the Turkish Army and their Free Syrian Army (FSA) allies reportedly shelled the Syrian Arab Army’s border guards in west Menbeij, allegedly killing 8 soldiers (unconfirmed) and wounding tens of military personnel.

According to a military source in Aleppo, the Turkish forces attacked the border guard units at the villages of Jubb Al-Himr, Bouhej, Al-Boghaz, and Korkoyok.

The aforementioned villages were recently handed over to the Syrian Arab Army by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as part of a peace agreement in northeast Aleppo.

There has been no communications with Syria, according to sources there and the Russian press, RT and Sputnik blocked any reporting initially, waiting for their government’s response.  It was assumed that the Russian government which had been in meetings with recently “empowered” American military, authorized by President Trump to act without supervision by the American government or approval by elected officials (called “military dictatorship” or “martial law”) had conferred with Russia and there was a tacit agreement behind Syria’s back.

Now, however, this is what the Russian press has this morning, finally:

Hundreds of U.S. Marines have arrived in Syria to establish an outpost in support of the operation to retake the city of Raqqa, the de-facto Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) capital in the country, the U.S.-led coalition confirmed on Thursday.

“We are talking about an additional 400 or so forces in total, and they will be there for a temporary period,” coalition spokesman U.S. Air Force Colonel John Dorrian said, as cited by Reuters.

The deployment is an addition to the existing 500 U.S. forces already in Syria and is aimed at accelerating the defeat of IS in its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa city, Dorrian said.

US deploys force in Manbij as ‘visible sign of deterrence’ – Pentagon

According to the official, the additional forces would be working with local partners in Syria – the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Syrian Arab Coalition. He stressed they would not have a frontline role.

Dorrian said the new forces comprised a Marines artillery unit and Army Rangers.

Reports of the new deployment first surfaced in U.S. media on Wednesday.

The Washington Post, which was the first to break the news citing anonymous defense officials, stated that the Marines will be working to establish an outpost from which they can fire artillery in support of the fight for Raqqa.

According to the newspaper, the new deployment is part of an amphibious task force of the 11th US Marine Expeditionary Unit, which left San Diego on Navy ships in October. It includes part of an artillery battery that can fire 155mm shells from M777 Howitzers.

The Washington Post said that the marines will be based within no more than 32km (20 miles) from the frontline outside Raqqa, as that is the maximum range of their artillery.

“The marines answer a problem that the [operation] has faced. [They now provide] all-weather fires considering how the weather is this time of year in northern Syria,” an official was cited as saying.

NBC on its part reported that the taskforce was pulled from Kuwait, also citing US defense officials, adding that the deployment is part of the new effort to “accelerate the fight” against the militants.

The news of the U.S. deployment comes after American soldiers were spotted traveling in an armored convoy near the Syrian city of Manbij, some 100km northwest of Raqqa, over the weekend in Strykers – heavily-armed, eight-wheel armored vehicles. The U.S.-led coalition in Syria confirmed the presence of American forces around Manbij on Saturday, with U.S. spokesman calling it a “deliberate action” aimed at ensuring that forces within the U.S.-led coalition “keep the focus on defeating ISIS.”

Raqqa has an estimated 3,000-4,000 IS fighters, but the group’s leaders have been rapidly fleeing the city lately – with the advance of liberation forces, the New York Times said on Wednesday citing a U.S. defense official. The operation to liberate the city from terrorists, codenamed Operation Euphrates Rage, was launched by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on November 5, 2016.

In the most recent development, on Monday, the SDF announced that they had severed the road between Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor to the east, cutting off a supply route for the extremist group and further isolating the militants in the city, Rudaw media network reported.

Then, finally, when we looked for some legal basis or at least a platform for understanding the U.S. move, we turned again to RT and found a March 7, 2017 story of Russia conferring with Turkey and the U.S, on Syria without Syria.

Based on today’s attacks on the Syrian Arab Army by Turkey, with U.S. Marines and army Special Forces on the spot to prevent such things, according to statements made, something is already awry it seems.

Source*

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“Quartz” Crystals at the Earth’s Core Power its Magnetic Field*

“Quartz” Crystals at the Earth’s Core Power its Magnetic Field*

Scientists at the Earth-Life Science Institute at the Tokyo Institute of Technology reported in Nature yesterday their unexpected discoveries about the Earth’s core. The findings include insights into the source of energy driving the Earth’s magnetic field, factors governing the cooling of the core and its chemical composition, and conditions that existed during the formation of the Earth.

The Earth’s core consists mostly of a huge ball of liquid metal lying at 3 000 km (1 864 miles) beneath its surface, surrounded by a mantle of hot rock. Notably, at such great depths, both the core and mantle are subject to extremely high pressures and temperatures. Furthermore, research indicates that the slow creeping flow of hot buoyant rocks -moving several centimetres per year – carries heat away from the core to the surface, resulting in a very gradual cooling of the core over geological time. However, the degree to which the Earth’s core has cooled since its formation is an area of intense debate amongst Earth scientists.

In 2013 Kei Hirose, now Director of the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) at the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech), reported that the Earth’s core may have cooled by as much as 1 000 °C (1 832 °F) since its formation 4.5 billion years ago. This large amount of cooling would be necessary to sustain the geomagnetic field, unless there was another as yet undiscovered source of energy. These results were a major surprise to the deep Earth community, and created what Peter Olson of Johns Hopkins University referred to as, “the New Core Heat Paradox”, in an article published in Science.

Core cooling and energy sources for the geomagnetic field were not the only difficult issues faced by the team. Another unresolved matter was uncertainty about the chemical composition of the core. “The core is mostly iron and some nickel, but also contains about 10% of light alloys such as silicon, oxygen, sulfur, carbon, hydrogen, and other compounds,” Hirose, lead author of the new study to be published in the journal Nature.

 “We think that many alloys are simultaneously present, but we don’t know the proportion of each candidate element.”

Now, in this latest research carried out in Hirose’s lab at ELSI, the scientists used precision cut diamonds to squeeze tiny dust-sized samples to the same pressures that exist at the Earth’s core. The high temperatures at the interior of the Earth were created by heating samples with a laser beam. By performing experiments with a range of probable alloy compositions under a variety of conditions, Hirose’s and colleagues are trying to identify the unique behaviour of different alloy combinations that match the distinct environment that exists at the Earth’s core.

The search of alloys began to yield useful results when Hirose and his collaborators began mixing more than one alloy. “In the past, most research on iron alloys in the core has focused only on the iron and a single alloy,” says Hirose. “But in these experiments, we decided to combine two different alloys containing silicon and oxygen, which we strongly believe exist in the core.”

Experimental result on crystallization of liquid Fe-Si-O at 133 gigapascals and about 4,000 kelvins, corresponding to the condition at the uppermost core. The X-ray elemental map shows the SiO2 crystals (purple) were formed from liquid (green) at low temperature part.

 

The researchers were surprised to find that when they examined the samples in an electron microscope, the small amounts of silicon and oxygen in the starting sample had combined together to form silicon dioxide crystals – the same composition as the mineral quartz found at the surface of the Earth.

“This result proved important for understanding the energetics and evolution of the core,” says John Hernlund of ELSI, a co-author of the study.

“We were excited because our calculations showed that crystallization of silicon dioxide crystals from the core could provide an immense new energy source for powering the Earth’s magnetic field.”

The additional boost it provides is plenty enough to solve Olson’s paradox.

The team has also explored the implications of these results for the formation of the Earth and conditions in the early Solar System. Crystallization changes the composition of the core by removing dissolved silicon and oxygen gradually over time. Eventually, the process of crystallization will stop when then core runs out of its ancient inventory of either silicon or oxygen.

“Even if you have silicon present, you can’t make silicon dioxide crystals without also having some oxygen available,” says ELSI scientist George Helffrich, who modeled the crystallization process for this study.

 

 “But this gives us clues about the original concentration of oxygen and silicon in the core, because only some silicon:oxygen ratios are compatible with this model.”

Source*

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